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The Role of Plasma β in Global Coronal Models: Bringing Balance back to the Force

by Michaela Brchnelova, Błażej Kuźma, Fan Zhang, Andrea Lani and Stefaan Poedts

Space weather has been increasingly more and more important for our society due to our increasing dependence on digital and space based systems which are vulnerable to effects such as radiation or coronal mass ejections. At the Centre for mathematical Plasma Astrophysics at KU Leuven, we have developed a global coronal model COCONUT which allows one to resolve the global coronal dynamics of the Sun. The results of our code can then be coupled with heliospheric software for space weather forecasting.

In this study, we discuss some of the assumptions we made in our original setup that led to worsened accuracy and performance, and propose solutions on how to mitigate these issues. We show that prescribing solar coronal boundary conditions further away from the star allows us to increase the assumed magnetic-to-thermal pressure ratio and as a result, end up with sharper and more accurate features in the domain, see Figure 1. This all comes at improved computational performance, meaning that we can obtain better results faster for the same setup. All of these computational experiments were possible thanks to our access to VSC and the support of the VSC team. VSC was, in fact, used by our group from the very beginning of the development of the code COCONUT.

All of these computational experiments were possible thanks to our access to VSC and the support of the VSC team.

Figure 1. Comparison in the resolution of density features with our original approach and the new approach suggested in the study. It is clear that the new approach results in much better pronounced features which can be well observed (and match the solar eclipse observations). This improvement results in no increase of computational requirements. Source: Brchnelova et. al, 2023.

These results will aid our efforts to improve the accuracy and reliability of space weather forecasting. Thus, as a result, we can hopefully help better protect our assets, critical infrastructure and society against the effects of space weather.


Read the full publication of this article at Astronomy and Astrophysics

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